Clarence “Big” Miller was born on December 18, 1922 in Sioux City Iowa and passed away on June 9, 1992 in Edmonton. He made his reputation as a teenager blues shouter in the fable Kansas City, going on to perform with Jay McShann’s band from 1949 -54 and the Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1955.
After landing in Vancouver after touring with Jon Hendricks in 1967 he moved to Edmonton in 1970 and became a much beloved figure in the local jazz scene, known for his warm baritone and sometime trombone playing. Big’s performance in 1978 with Tommy Banks Big Band in Montreaux Switzerland earned them a Juno award for Best Jazz Album. Miller was featured in the NFB film “Big and the Blues” in 1980.
He was reunited with Jay McShann in 1983 and 1989 and made numerous appearances nationally and internationally on the festival and concert circuit including with Nimmons and Nine Plus 6. He taught at Banff and Grant McEwan and was awarded an honourary doctorate from Athabasca University in 1985.
He was immortalized in a statue dedicated in the fall 2009 in front of the Edmonton Jazz Society’s Yardbird Suite.